World Bulletin/News Desk
Any foreign intervention in Syria would be an act of aggression unless it is approved by Damascus, a Syrian government minister said on Thursday, after the United States said it was prepared to strike against militants in the country.
Meanwhile, Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday airstrikes against militants in Syria without a UN Security Council mandate would be an act of aggression, Interfax news agency reported.
"The U.S. president has spoken directly about the possibility of strikes by the U.S. armed forces against ISIL positions in Syria without the consent of the legitimate government," ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.
"This step, in the absence of a UN Security Council decision, would be an act of aggression, a gross violation of international law."
The fight against militants in Syria and Iraq should only be carried out in compliance with international law and with respect for the territorial integrity of these nations, the Russian Foreign Ministry also said on Thursday.
"It is essential to fight this evil in strict compliance with the practices of international law, U.N. Security Council resolutions and the U.N. in general... and with strict respect for the territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq," Lukashevich told a news briefing.
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he had authorised U.S. airstrikes in Syria and more attacks in Iraq in a broad escalation of a campaign against the ISIL.
In Washington on Thursday State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters that any military action Washington was considering inside Syria would be aimed at the militants and not at the Assad government.
President Barack Obama "has emphasized repeatedly that Assad had lost all legitimacy and must go, but the President has also been clear and his first priority is the safety of the American people. ISIL poses a threat to us and that is what we're focused on when it comes to any potential action in Syria," she said.
She said there needed to be a political transition in Damascus: "There cannot be a military solution for the Assad regime leaving power."
Speaking in Damascus after meeting with Assad and other senior Syrian officials, U.N.-appointed mediator Mistura said it was important for the international community to tackle militant groups in Syria.
"The terrorist threat has become an international concern shared by everyone," he told a news conference, adding that the international community was getting closer to taking action.
He said he had a "very long and useful meeting" with Assad, but declined to give details, saying only that the United Nations would work with Syria to help tackle the violence, provide humanitarian aid and work on a solution to the crisis.
"Syrians, wherever they are, and the government should be helped by the United Nations and the international community to find a Syrian-owned all-inclusive, positive, political process," he said.
Obama, who is due to host a leaders' security conference at the U.N. General Assembly in two weeks' time, made no mention of seeking an international mandate for action in Syria.
It has provided arms and blocked Western and Arab-backed efforts to adopt Security Council resolutions condemning him or threatening him with sanctions.
It has repeatedly argued that it does not believe the Syrian opposition can fill the void that would be left by Assad's departure, warning the country would fall into the hands of militants.
France, a key ally for the United States in the planned coalition, said on Wednesday it was ready to take part in air strikes in Iraq, but said its involvement in any military action in Syria would need to have international law behind it.
French officials have said that would come either through a Security Council resolution or under Article 51 of the U.N. charter, allowing for protection of threatened populations.
"The Russians aren't beholden to Assad," said a senior French diplomat.
"It's in their interest as much as ours to fight terrorism so we can hopefully find some pragmatic and objective ways to resolve our differences and find a way to agree."Last Mod: 11 Eylül 2014, 23:12